Kindness, Wickedness, & The Cross of Christ

 

How amazing the kindness of the Lord.

I’ve never been as astounded at the gravity of Jesus’ kindness to go to the cross as I was this Easter.

Each year I find myself anticipating Easter out of routine and excitement over what God has done but without really grasping the magnitude of it. It’s easy to miss what He actually had to go through. It’s easy to not connect with it because I’ve never been tortured like He was. It’s easy to be happy and joyful but not actually see the reality of what Jesus went through.

I remember when I first watched the Passion of the Christ. I was around 13 years old in a crowded movie theater. Sounds of popcorn crunching and soda slurping soon turned to weeping and sniffling.

It was terribly hard to watch.

But I couldn’t cry.

Tears would not fall. I was trying to make myself cry because what I saw was so heart–wrenching, but I couldn’t. I was in shock but I couldn’t cry. I wanted to feel devastated and so in love with this man who I saw being tortured to death. But I felt like I couldn’t connect. I felt like I didn’t know Him very well. And it bothered me. I remember leaving the movie theater seeing everybody in tears and I wasn’t…I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt so cold and heartless. I felt like I wasn’t connected to Jesus and that my lack of tears hurt His feelings.

It’s fascinating to me when I think back to that experience, how much I’ve changed and how much this whole Christianity thing really is about relationship. The more you get to know someone, the more connected you are to him or her. The more you go through with someone, the more bonded you are with him or her.

This year, I watched a passion play with my mom.

At first, I was merely watching it for entertainment, again forgetting the magnitude of what Jesus had done. How easy it is to let a holiday disengage us from what we’re actually celebrating.

Then after about an hour, we arrived at the scene where Jesus was carrying His cross.

And my heart started to break as I watched the people walking with Him yelling at Him and the centurions whipping Him over and over again… it made me so mad!

I wanted to yell back at them and tell them to stop yelling at Him and stop whipping Him, to leave Him alone! Don’t you realize who you are doing that to!? Don’t you realize that is God right there that you are yelling at and whipping!? Then I remembered that I was watching a play and I couldn’t yell at the actors. They would think I’m a crazy person.

But I just could not believe what I was watching.

I couldn’t believe my eyes…

It was as if I was learning about all of this for the very first time… It was as if I was witnessing wickedness for the very first time… I just couldn’t believe the wickedness that I saw in humanity… the evil… the hatred… the ignorance… that they would treat anybody like that is already sickening but to do that to the Son of God?! Is humanity really so wicked? Is humanity really so blind? We are. We are that wicked. We are that blind. I was greatly disturbed.

As I looked at Jesus, again I could not believe my eyes.

Jesus just kept walking and let them yell at Him…

He kept walking and let them whip Him…

I couldn’t believe it.

Why won’t you make them stop, Lord!?

Why won’t you at least tell them they are wicked and defend yourself and tell them they will get what’s coming to them!

But Jesus didn’t say a word.

Jesus didn’t say a word.

He walked in silence.

And let them nail Him down to a cross like He wasn’t even a person.

One of the few phrases He even uttered was a phrase of forgiveness, in Luke 23:34:

“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Know not they do!?

Surely, Lord, they do know what they are doing to You!!! Why won’t you just be mad at them and tell them they are all going to hell!

This is what I am thinking as I watched this play. I couldn’t believe that Jesus would let them be jerks to him and not even say anything to them about it, and on top of all of that decided that he would ask God to forgive them! It’s insane! No. It’s Jesus. It’s Jesus.

Jesus is so kind.

Watching this played out, I saw such kindness.

Kindness that I have never quite seen before while thinking about Easter.

Sure I’ve always thought Wow, God, You are so loving to do what you did for us and Oh thank You God for dying for me! But I never saw the kindness. And to me, kindness really overwhelms me when I see it. It blows me away. Even more than love.

Because kindness is harder than love, I think.

When you love someone, you will do anything for them. But kindness involves being kind to those you don’t necessarily love. It means being kind to those who hurt you. Kind to those who badmouth you. Kind to those who disrespect you. And that’s hard. That’s real hard. But Jesus showed kindness to the very ones who murdered Him and disrespected Him. And that is extremely moving for me to comprehend.

I’m greatly astounded and almost perplexed at the kindness of Jesus in the midst of His crucifixion.

How can someone in so much pain be so kind to the wicked?

His forgiveness.

His forgiveness is unlike anything we can comprehend.

It’s as if Jesus had a posture of pre-forgiveness, like He already forgave them. Like He already possessed the ability to forgive anyone at any time for anything no matter what…because he immediately demonstrated forgiveness to those who murdered Him. He didn’t need time to process it and finally decide begrudgingly that He would forgive them, nor does He do that to you or I. No. Jesus forgives immediately. Instantaneously. As if he doesn’t even need to think about it. He just forgives right then.

What if we forgave like that?

What if we had a posture of pre-forgiveness, so that we live life already prepared to forgive before anyone ever wrongs us?

I guarantee it would transform the way we interact with people.

I guarantee it would dissolve any ounce of animosity.

I guarantee it would fill us with peace in any and every circumstance.

I guarantee it would heal your heart.

I’m overwhelmed by the cross. It’s because of the cross of Christ that I have been forgiven of everything I’ve done and ever will do wrong. All of it is instantaneously wiped away. It’s so unbelievably amazing. That Jesus would forgive wicked people, showing them kindness in His greatest moment of pain, all because He loved His people and wanted a relationship with them. Because of this He defeated evil.

You see, at the cross of Christ, kindness and wickedness intersect.

And God squashes out the evil!

God defeats the enemy!

Kindness triumphs.

Wickedness loses.

Kindness is victorious.

Wickedness is disgraced.

Because of Christ, the cross wins.

The cross of Christ.

Now I see why Jesus remained silent.

Jesus didn’t have to speak up for Himself.

The cross did that.

The cross spoke up for Him.

The cross defended His name.

The cross displays to everyone who He really is.

The centurion down beneath Jesus watching Him die as He hung on the cross looked up at Jesus and knew it was true. Mark 15:39 records it:

“And when the centurion, who stood facing Him saw that in this way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’ ’’

I’m so thankful that Jesus is not like us. He really is holy. He really is majestic. He really is worthy. He really is kind. Let your soul be refreshed today knowing that Jesus is full of kindness for you and went through all that He went through because He really does want you! He wants you to be His. You can know Him today if you ask Him to. Let Him love you.

I pray that we would be a people of radical kindness like Jesus. May we show kindness in the midst of wickedness. May we display the cross of Christ in our own lives through this demonstration. Praise God for His kindness towards us when we were wicked in our sin. Thank You, Lord, for teaching us how to love. Thank You for Easter. May we never forget how glorious You are.

 

 

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

–John 15:13–

“City of Hope” by Amanda Cook

Waiting for Jesus

trust

I wonder what it will be like seeing Jesus for the first time…

After all the time spent getting to know someone so deeply who you’ve never seen, never touched, never spoken to directly…all of it will change in a moment and suddenly there’s no more hoping anymore, no more wondering anymore, no more waiting anymore…

Jesus will be right there in front of your face.

Staring into your soul.

Touching your hand.

Embracing you.

Satisfying the deepest places of lack in your heart.

Finally.

I’ve always wondered how Jesus will be able to be with everybody in the New Heaven and New Earth if there will be so many people up there…

I just don’t know what I would do if I had to wait in line to see Jesus!

Waiting in line to see Jesus?

Hmm…

I would get so antsy waiting to see Him!

I don’t know if I could wait…I would find myself cutting the line and sneaking up to Him tapping Him on the shoulder from behind. Jesus, I’m sorry but I just couldn’t wait in line to see You…I need to see You now! But what about everyone else? I can’t just cut everyone else. Natalie, be patient…I will see you shortly… Sigh. But No, Jesus, I need You now! Please don’t make me wait anymore… I can see it now all playing out. Surely Jesus wouldn’t tell me to go away…

Surely this is not how it will be!

Surely we won’t have to wait in line to see Him!

So I try to remember He is omnipresent. God’s Word says He is everywhere and always with us (Jeremiah 23:23-24, Isaiah 57:15, Acts 17:27, Ephesians 4:6, Psalm 139:7-9).

But I still wrestle with this fear because, logistically, how can one physical entity be with me and be with everyone else too when we are all together in eternity?

The Bible says in Revelation 21 that there will be no crying in heaven and no pain. No sorrow and no anxiety. Nothing bad!

Yet when I think about having to share Jesus with billions of other people it makes me think I will hardly get to see Him and it stresses me out. But I don’t want to take away other people’s opportunity to see and be with Jesus either. So what will we do? If there is no stress in heaven, I know I won’t be stressed out. So somehow it has to work out and be okay.

I just hope that God is able to be with every single person at the same time in some supernatural way that only He can do!

Then I wonder…

What if Jesus gets sick of me?

I just want to go and find Jesus wherever He is and be with him 24/7 so I fear that He will get tired of me wanting to be with Him all of the time. What if He is having an important discussion with someone really high-up like Moses or Peter or his own mother Mary and then I’m right there having to wait to get to be with Him. I don’t want Jesus to get tired of me for always trying to be with Him. I get so scared that I will scare Him away.

I really need God to help me with these fears. Because I’m realizing that the way I view my future relationship with Jesus in Heaven is also what I fear in real relationships. I fear loving someone so much that I lose them. I fear pushing them away.

So I’m asking the Lord to help me see me the way He sees me and to believe that He does want to be with me just as much as I want to be with Him.

I love this verse in Jeremiah 31:3 as a reminder to my heart that Jesus loves me more than I believe:

“the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” (emphasis mine)

We all need to focus on the “continued to” part.

I know I do.

God loving you is a continual thing, not a one-time thing.

Real love never stops.

Real love never gets tired of you.

Real love never neglects you.

Real love pursues you forever no matter what.

Jesus won’t stop loving me. He wont stop loving you either! No matter how much I think I’m bugging Him, no matter what I do to fail Him, no matter how I mess up, Jesus will never get tired of me. He will never get tired of you. He will continue to love me. He will continue to love you. I can’t even describe how much this truth comforts.

I want you to know that Jesus will love you forever and He will never get tired of you being with Him!

I mean, Jesus possesses a kind of love that is radically different from anything we could fathom…He loves sinful people like you and I…and He came and died while we were still in the middle of our mess…He extends His hand to us while we are still in the middle of our mess…that’s love! Love that will never stop! Love that you can count on. Love that goes on and on and on…

Romans 5:7-8 affirms this,

“For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (emphasis mine)

That’s love.

My heart is at peace knowing this kind of love exists.

It’s what reminds me that God’s omnipresence has to be real because if God loves us that much, there is no way that we will be left standing in line waiting to see Him in Heaven.

He will make a way to be with each and every one of us all of the time. That’s just what I believe. I know Jesus’ heart of love would not neglect any one of His children even for one second. So we can be confident that we will have access to Jesus forever at every moment.

Let your heart be refreshed today knowing there will come a day when we get to step into eternity with God forever. And I pray for you that you would know God loves you and He will never get tired of you! He will never grow weary with you! He will never stop loving you! It’s not possible. Let Him love you. I pray that you would be overcome with peace and comfort today. Thank you, Jesus.

“Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:

“Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.


He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things have passed away.”

-Revelation 21:3-4-

 

 

“Shine A Light” by Elevation Church

God is Satisfied in You

IMG_20160311_195823

Do you ever feel like you just can’t live up to the life God has called you to?

Do you ever feel like you don’t measure up?

Have you ever felt like you’re just not enough?

If you’ve ever felt inadequate or incapable… insufficient or invisible… a disappointment or a failure… I know how you feel. This post is for you.

I want you to know that God sees you as so precious and fully enough, no matter how empty and inadequate you may feel!

You are always enough to Him!

God is satisfied in you.

The Lord has been reminding me of this truth today, in a season of life where every day I feel like I don’t measure up.

I feel inadequate.

I feel like there is something I’m supposed to live up to and I just can’t cut it. I can’t live up to it. I feel overwhelming pressure to measure up to everything and prove that I am good enough. But all it does is make me feel worse about the fact that I can’t ever prove that I am. I never feel good enough. It makes me want to give up. Too many things I fail. Too many things I mess up. I never feel like I am capable to live whatever life God wants for me. All these thoughts are like repeat in my head. It keeps whispering and whispering. And I know that it is the enemy trying to mess me up and make me give up. He wants me to fall apart.

I know the enemy does not want me to be confident whatsoever in anything of God.

So he attacks me with lies over and over again.

The problem is I can believe them.

I can believe the lies and become so paralyzed by fear that it may actually be true, and I shut down. I don’t know how to overcome the anxiety in that moment.

Until God begins to whisper His truth a little louder…and a little louder… And I am reminded that God is STRONGER than any fear I may be distracted by.

I love the verse Psalm 56:3. I used to say it when I was little. And my dad reminded me of it last week. It says, “When I am afraid I will trust in You. In God, whose Word I praise…”

God is strong enough to ease your fears!

God is strong enough to fight for you when you are weak!

God is strong enough to destroy the enemy when He tries to whisper lies to you!

God is strong enough to lead you when you don’t know which way to go!

God is strong enough to protect you!

“No weapon that is fashioned against you will succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises up against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication is from Me, declares the Lord.” – Isaiah 54:17.

May God be praised!

He will protect us.

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” – Nahum 1:7.

I’ve never been more confident in this than I am now that God is strong enough to help me. If He weren’t I would fall apart. Because I need Him so bad right now!

You know why God chooses to protect you?

Because you are VALUABLE to Him!

1 Corinthians 3:17 says this,

“If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is HOLY, and that is what YOU are.” (emphasis mine).

God sees you as priceless and so worthy of His own love. His love! How crazy is it that the God who created the universe and everything in it would choose to love a mere human?

Because you are far from inadequate.

You are far from invisible.

You are far from unworthy.

You are far from not-good-enough.

God chooses you, beloved.

He chooses you!

He fights for you!

You are so valuable that God was going to do whatever it took to be able to have you live with Him in His Holy dwelling forever. He came and lived a really hard life, knowing all along the plan was to be murdered by His own people – just so He could pay what it would cost to have you be His forever. He wasn’t about to lose you. No sir. He went after you! He wants you that much! You are that valuable to Him.

You are far from incapable.

For you, precious son and daughter are made in the very image of the most high God.

His very image!

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). I can’t believe that God would choose to make us like Him. He wanted children who would reflect His glory and beauty.

And let me tell you…God is radiantly glorious and beautiful…and so naturally that is what YOU are!

Radiantly glorious.

Radiantly beautiful.

Every hue of your skin, every shade of your hair, every glimmer in your eyes, every creative idea in your mind, every desire in your heart, everything about you… it comes from God by His own expertise to design you. And what He designs is always breathtaking.

Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God designing you,

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

For anyone who doubts their ability to live up to God’s standard, I know how you feel.

I’ve been there. And in many ways I still am. So I want to encourage your heart today that you don’t have to measure up to anything!

Jesus Christ measures up to God’s standard and He stands in Your place reconciling you to God. It’s not your job to measure up anymore. That’s Jesus’ job. And it’s already been done. You can receive Him.

Jesus Christ covers you.

Therefore, God is satisfied in you.

Let that sink in.

God is satisfied in you.

I want you to know it!

God is satisfied in you…

The real you.

Not the “achievement” you.

Not the “hard worker” you.

Not the “educated” you.

Not the “all-done-up” you.

Not the “successful” you.

Not the “all-put-together” you.

No.

God is satisfied in you just how you are…

“You” on a bad day.

“You” when you mess up.

“You” when you cry.

“You” when you fail.

“You” when you sin.

“You” when you cuss.

“You” when you lie.

“You” at your lowest.

“You” when you get back from the gym all sweaty.

“You” when you have road rage (or maybe I should speak for myself : ) )

“You” when you feel like you’ve let everybody down.

“You” when you feel you just don’t measure up.

God is satisfied with that “you.”

That’s the “you” He chooses.

That’s the “you” He’s satisfied in.

Know it, my precious friends. Know it. God is satisfied in you just the way you are. And so are the ones who love you.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” –Romans 8:38-39

I pray boldly as coming to the throne room of the Lord that you would believe God is satisfied with you the way you are. I pray this for my heart too. May you overflow with joy as you ponder the magnitude of what it means for Christ to choose you. May you smile at the thought of God looking at you with a grin on His face and love in His eyes…for you beloved, for you. May your heart be free today knowing that God is satisfied with the real you. Thank You, Jesus for how You love.

 

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by My name, you are Mine.

when you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk though fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the LORD your God,

The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”

Isaiah 43:1b-3a

 

Questions for Today:

  • Do I believe that God is satisfied with the real me? me at my lowest?
  • If not, what keeps me from believing this truth?
  • Why does God see me as valuable?
  • Why did God make me in His own image?
  • Why is it crucial that I believe that God is satisfied with the real me?

 

“Resurrecting” by Elevation Worship